May 16, 2014 4:25 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE, La. - Senior pitcher Cody Boutte and junior second baseman Jace Conrad were among 80 players that have been named to the 2014 Gregg Olson Award watch list, presented by Toolshed Sports, to honor the breakout player of the year in college baseball.
"This is an award that really personifies hard work and perseverance in this game," head coach Tony Robichaux said. "This is not an easy game to play, and not an easy game to be successful at. When you have an okay year, you do one of two things. Either you can come back and have another okay year, or you can come back and work harder and build on the year you had before. We are very proud of both of these guys in the fact that they came back and did the things they needed to do to be better players."
Conrad, a semifinalist for the Dick Howser award, has increased his average from .286 a year ago to .376 this season. The junior already has more hits (77), doubles (17), home runs (7) and RBI (51) than he did in 2013. He is on pace to double his RBI production this season from a year ago and has been one of the major catalysts in the Cajuns offense with 24 two-out RBI through 54 games.
"Jace has a huge desire to compete and to win, and because of that it drives both his success and the team's success," Robichaux added. "He has become a better leader this year than he was last year and that has played a part in the success we are having."
Boutte stepped into the weekend rotation at the start of conference play this season and has been masterful for Louisiana posting a 7-0 record with a 2.66 ERA which is tops in the Sun Belt among starting pitchers. The senior was 8-4 a year ago with a 5.30 ERA in 17 starts. Boutte ranks third on the team in strikeouts with 44 in 64.1 innings pitched.
"It's been a long time that we have been able stack up our three starters every weekend because of the consistency of Cody," Robichaux said. "Most teams don't have that luxury. He has really stepped up and competed well for us every Sunday."
The award is named after former Auburn Tiger Gregg Olson, who became one of the top college baseball players in the nation after an initial season with mixed success. Olson went on to become a two-time All-America selection, first round draft pick, American League Rookie of the Year and MLB star. Like Olson, these players have elevated their game to an elite level and in many instances their team has mirrored their success as a direct result.
Initial nominations were made by sports information/media contacts from schools across the country. The finalists and winner will be determined by an independent panel.
Semifinalists are slated to be named, Friday, May 30 at the start of NCAA Regional play and the finalists are scheduled to be announced on Friday, June 6 at the beginning of Super Regional action. The winner of the 2014 Gregg Olson Award will be named in Omaha, Nebraska during the College World Series.
For more information about the award visit http://www.olsonaward.com.